Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Seasons Come to Cross Creek

Cross Creek, the Florida home of 
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is quite an observer of the natural world. In her book, Cross Creek, she has a splendid tale or two to tell about the challenges and delights that each season brings. Ms. Rawlings lived on this 72-acre citrus farm in the 1930s.

She introduces the four chapters on seasons at the Creek with this: "Here in Florida the seasons move in and out like nuns in soft clothing, making no rustle in their passing."

Spring is a time of new life in the gardens and mating among the wildlife and farm animals. Calves and piglets and domesticated ducklings are born. Night-blooming jasmine perfumes the air. Birds - egrets, blue jays, and red birds - gather at the feed basket. The snakes come out to play after their winter naps.

Summer is full of days of lethargy and nights spent sleeping on the screened in porch to escape the heat. The rains come in mid-August. Some evenings the 'night spirits' come out and fog hangs eerily over the orange groves and the marshes.

In the fall, she and her neighbors wait for rain and then it comes in the form of hurricanes. Crops of beans, carrots, beets, and turnips are planted. The sugar cane is scythed and bundled into sheaves, ground, and boiled into syrup.

Winter is the start of hunting season. She and neighbors eat fresh squirrel stew for breakfast. Quail are flushed and killed. Deer are stalked, but Ms. Rawlings deliberately refuses to take aim at these noble creatures. One year, a light snow fell. If the temperature falls below 28 degrees, fires are lit in the orange groves to protect the fruit from freezing. An exhausting task and one that is not always successful. Mistletoe is gathered from the tree tops.

Here is how she describes Christmas at Cross Creek:

Most Christmas days at the Creek have been warm enough to serve Christmas dinner on the veranda. I feel a little cheated on such occasions, for although half the world is warm at Christmas, it is difficult not to think of snow and cold and reindeer and coziness in connection with the day. I have a roaring fire on the hearth no matter what the temperature, and growl a bit at the bright sunshine and the hibiscus blossoms. The holly and the mistletoe that are inseparable from the northern celebration grow in abundance at the Creek, and the poorest families gather a few sprays to hang over the mantel. The mistletoe is a parasite (which the Spanish moss is not) and sucks the substance from my pecan trees. It must be cut out once a year in any case and I have no qualms at breaking immense boughs at Christmas time for furbishing my house and for taking to town friends. 


  1. See, Florida does have seasons!

    Like Ms. Rawlings, we always have a fire in our fireplace on Christmas, even if we have to run our AC. This year, I think it's going to be cool, but it was colder at Thanksgiving than it is now. Kind of hard to feel very Christmassy wearing shorts to run to the grocery store... I wouldn't trade that for blizzards and ice storms, however.

    1. Hi, Kathy. I thought of you as I read Ms. Rawlings experiences with the seasons. She does admit there isn't much difference but what there is is exciting in its own way.

      Enjoy your Christmas by the fire!